10 Things To Be Grateful For In 2010

As with most years, 2010 has offered us the good, the bad and the ugly. The following is a highly subjective list of some of the best things to come out of cinema this year. Feel free to add your own entries in the comments below.

1. The Return Of Michael Keaton

Following appearances in such cinematic classics as First Daughter, Michael Keaton spent a number of years in the land successful wide releases forgot. That changed in 2010, with a memorable role voicing Ken in the hugely successful Toy Story 3, and scene-stealing as Captain Gene Mauch in The Other Guys. Although the latter was not exactly the film of the year, Keaton raised the bar with a fantastic comic performance reminiscent of his glory days. This served as a timely reminder of his charisma and aptitude for comedy in Night Shift and Beetlejuice among others. Welcome back, Mr Keaton!

2. Warner Bros Greenlit Inception

Despite its box office success, Inception is a film that has divided critics and audiences. Love it or hate it, we should all be grateful that the studio greenlit the big-budget production in the first place. Based on an original screenplay, Inception was a refuge from the barrage of sequels, remakes, spin-offs and adaptations. Inception was a blockbuster that was engaging yet accessible. For the film, Warner Bros expended the kind of marketing strategy usually reserved for pre-sold entities. Given the healthy box office returns, the gamble certainly paid off. Hopefully Inception‘s success will give more studios the confidence to follow suit.

3. Disney Released A Traditionally Animated Feature

The Princess and the Frog (released in February 2010 in the UK) marked the first hand-drawn animation film from Disney since 2004. The past five years have seen no shortage in animated films; however these have tended to be of the computer generated variety. While features such as Up look fantastic, there is something quintessentially Disney about The Princess and the Frog. The beautiful animation harks back to the golden age of the early and mid-nineties, when each year would see a now classic Disney animated feature. Only time will tell whether The Princess and the Frog will be appraised in the same way as films such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. In the meantime, the film indicates at least some variety in Disney’s output.

4. Referencing The 1980s Is Still In Vogue

Certainly not a new trend for 2010, for a number of years now cinema has been harking back to the eighties. Be it long overdue sequels to 1980s hits (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), remakes or even choice of soundtrack, referencing that most magical of decades has been a fixture in Hollywood in recent years. 2010, however, may have pulled of a coup d’état with the gloriously nostalgic Hot Tub Time Machine. With an amazing soundtrack and a plethora of references to 1980s films, fashion and popular culture, Steve Pink’s film was the ultimate homage to the much-loved decade.

5. David Fincher Signed On To Direct A Film About Facebook

A film about the creation of social networking site Facebook sounded just about the most unappealing premise of the year. Interest was peaked when David Fincher was announced as director of the project in 2009, but many, like myself, remained unconvinced. All that changed when the film was released in October 2010. The Social Network was one of the most absorbing films of the year, brilliantly executed and visually handsome. A very welcome surprise.

6. Woody Allen Dusted Off A Script From The ’70s

Released in June 2010 in the UK, Whatever Works saw a return to form for prolific director Woody Allen. Based on his original script from the 1970s, Whatever Works featured all the hallmarks of a classic Allen feature; witty dialogue, well-written characters and the New York setting. The film served as a reminder of why Woody Allen is such a lauded filmmaker, and is reminiscent of some of his best-loved pictures of the 1970s and 1980s. Here’s hoping Allen has a few more scripts gathering dust in his attic.

7. Colin Firth Stepped Up His Game

A bastion of period drama and romantic comedies, in 2010 Colin Firth revealed his flair for more serious dramatic roles with two magnificent performances. Firth conveyed the aching tragedy of George in Tom Ford’s A Single Man (released in February 2010 in the UK), and was thoroughly convincing as George VI in The King’s Speech (screened at the London Film Festival in October 2010). Having won awards for A Single Man and already receiving nominations for The King’s Speech, these triumphs are almost enough for us to forget Mamma Mia. Almost.

8. Danny Boyle Produced One Of The Most Wince-Inducing Scenes In Film History

Collective squirming ensued in screenings throughout the world when Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours was released (screened at the London Film Festival in October 2010). Most viewers would have known what to expect, but the film excels in building tension right up until this point. The event itself was visceral enough to apparently induce vomiting and fainting amongst audience members. This may just have been good marketing, but what remains is one of the most memorable scenes of 2010.

9. The Bounty Hunter Was Released In March

Though it has faced some stiff competition, The Bounty Hunter was the worst film released this year. For an action comedy, The Bounty Hunter was painfully unfunny. Like a childhood trauma, time dulls the pain, although you never entirely forget.

10. Joe Dante Directed A ‘Family Horror’

The Hole (released September 2010 in the UK) may not be the greatest film of the year, but it was certainly one of the scariest. For a film with child protagonists and aimed at a family audience, the film was surprisingly frightening. The Hole played on the most primal of fears, which resulted in a film that was far more effective than many of the adult horrors released this year. Although The Hole has been rather overlooked in terms of critical acclaim, it is a must-see for horror aficionados.

Film Review: The Social Network

Even to the most ardent Facebook fan the premise of this film doesn’t sound enthralling; a movie about the founding of the social networking site. Don’t let this put you off, however, as The Social Network is a wholly entertaining and surprisingly funny film.

On the 2003 night that his girlfriend breaks up with him, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg begins to work an idea that will revolutionise online communication. As the success of his idea grows, however, so do the problems in both his personal and professional life…

Director David Fincher does an excellent job of generating such an interesting film out of what looks on paper to be a fairly simple chain of events. The Social Network concentrates on the human side of the story, developing characters that appear natural and multi-demensional. Nevertheless, the film does not shy away from presenting details of the court cases, as well as detailing the way in which Zuckerberg creates the site that will lead on to Facebook.

Rather than focussing solely on Zuckerberg, The Social Network gives sufficient attention to the various others involved with the creation of the site. This is an important factor as the film depicts real people and court cases, which occured very recently. Thus, the filmmakers offer a view of proceedings from the various people involved, rather than siding with a particular character’s account of events. The result is a film that tells an engaging story, but avoids placing blame or praise too much on any of the characters.

Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay is excellent. The Social Network is peppered with wit throughout, particularly from Zuckerberg’s character. Mark Zuckerberg is a protagonist to both sympathise with and be irritated by, the film suggests. Sean Parker comes across as obnoxious but entertaining, whilst Eduardo Saverin is the most relatable of the bunch. It is hard not to empathise with Saverin as he experiences the company slipping away from him.

Jesse Eisenberg perfectly embodies the Zuckerberg character. Eisenberg masters the awkwardness of the character, whilst delivering his lines with precision. Andrew Garfield gives a solid performance as Saverin; in the later scenes particularly, his anguish appears genuine and affecting. Justin Timberlake is good as the brash Parker, though the performance doesn’t seem too much of a stretch from the entertainer’s natural personality.

The visuals have a polished quality to them. With the use of lighting and colour, the atmosphere of Harvard contrasts greatly with the California scenes. There is a darkness to The Social Network that adds a weight to the action. This is aided by the score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, which is notable without becoming overbearing.

In its account of true events, The Social Network offers a compelling story that does not lose sight of the humanity of its protagonists.